Stephen Hopkins, director of The Ghost in the Darkness, Predator 2, and the reboot of Lost in Space, and TV series House of Lies and 24, is bringing to the big screen the momentous race of Jesse Owens, the black track and field gold medalist who showed-up Adolf Hitler’s racist regime by winning in the 1936 Olympics. The cleverly titled Race stars Stephan James (Selma) as Owens, the role previously given to John Boyega, who instead left the production to take on the role of Finn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Race co-stars Saturday Night Live alumnus Jason Sudeikis as Coach Larry Snyder, as well as Academy Award winners William Hurt and Jeremy Irons. Race is the kind of serious topic biopic the Academy traditionally looks for at Oscar time. If the film is the great drama that the story deserves, this could be a breakout role for both James and Sudeikis.
But can Sudeikis overcome his comedy acting past to drive this drama home? Many ex-SNL regulars have tried to break the SNL curse and jump into drama, including Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Steve Martin, Albert Brooks, and Eddie Murphy, along with other comedy talents like Michael Keaton, Eddie Izzard, Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, Will Smith, Robin Williams, and Jonah Hill. Will the Academy recognize Race a year from now? Murray, Aykroyd, Martin, Brooks, Hill, Smith, Williams, and Keaton have all been nominated for acting Oscars, but no ex-SNL actor has won an acting Oscar, and only comedic actors Foxx and Williams were able to make the switch from comedy to drama and take home the big prize.
Check out this trailer for Race:
Race is the first of three Owens movies from the big studios in the works, and joins Eddie the Eagle (previewed earlier this week at borg.com here) in this early 2016 season of Olympic movies and a long line of stand-out Olympic biopics including Jim Thorpe–All-American, Chariots of Fire, and Cool Runnings.
Catch Race in theaters February 19, 2016.